Tweet for Proposals (TFP) on WordPress MU Hosting

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My good friend Lucien Engelen (@zorg20) tells the story of how he used Twitter to find someone able to develop an iPhone application for him in an extremely short time. He says it would have taken him weeks to do an RFP or ask one of his analysts to identify options, and by using Twitter he had the whole project completed (and the app in the iTunes store) within just a couple of weeks or so.

I’m taking a lesson from him, but in a different application, and doing my first TFP, or “Tweet for Proposals.”

Here’s the background:

Our Mayo Clinic blogs, including our Health Policy Blog, News Blog, Podcast Blog and Sharing Mayo Clinic, among others, have been hosted on until this point.

We started with because it was easy, fast, reliable and didn’t require us to dedicate IT resources and servers, and because it would eventually enable us to move to a self-hosted solution without losing Google juice. The URLs would all remain the same, but would be pointed to a different server.

I believe the time for our migration has come, and I would like to move our blogs from to a WordPress MU installation to create an easier growth path and also to give us more flexibility in plug-ins, widget embedding, etc.

Here’s what I think we need:

  1. Help setting up the WordPress MU platform.
  2. Help in migration from our existing blogs to the new platform, including mapping each of the URLs to the MU platform.
  3. Hosting and support that is rock solid and available 24/7. has been excellent in meeting traffic surges and has enabled us to focus on content instead of technical issues.

In essence, I think our ideal provider would have experience in migrating blogs from to the WordPress MU platform, and would currently be hosting several blogs on a WordPress MU installation. We’re not looking for a provider to do anything with content or comment moderation, but solely hosting and technical assistance, managing plug-ins, and otherwise enabling us to gain extended functionality as well as flexibility and scalability.

We could consider hosting on our own servers, and if you would want to propose that kind of model, we would be open to discussing. I would like to see, though, if we could get the 24/7 support from someone who is in the server business instead of expecting it from our IT staff.

I would appreciate it if you would pass this TFP on to anyone you think would be qualified, and I welcome any recommendations you have for suitable providers. Please leave them in the comments below. If you want more information or to discuss this off-line, send me a note here: aase (dot) lee (at) mayo (dot) edu.

Social Media 401: Vince Muzik Case Study

Vince Muzik
Vince Muzik

I’ve known Vince Muzik for nearly four decades, ever since I took piano lessons from his mother, Jan. (Yes, my piano teacher was Mrs. Muzik.) But it gets even better: Vince’s father, Conrad, was the Austin High School band instructor, so when I played trombone (until 9th grade) my instructor was… Mr. Muzik.

Vince’s love was photography, though, and particularly relating to sports. He got his first chance to shoot a big statewide event when he was a teenager, and the Austin Daily Herald got him press credentials for our basketball team’s trip to the state high basketball tournament in 1981. We were 22-0 going into the tournament, but faced the also-unbeaten (and defending champion) Minneapolis North in the first round. Here’s a photo Vince took at that game (can you tell which one is me?)

One of Vince's first published photos
One of Vince's first published photos

Although I didn’t get that rebound, we did come back to win the game after being down 31-24 at halftime. We beat another undefeated team, Chaska, in the semifinals, before losing to Anoka in the championship game. Here’s my admittedly self-serving highlight video from that experience, which is only available thanks to another friend whose brother was one of the few consumers who had a VCR at the time:

Vince has stayed interested in sports, and has gotten opportunities to shoot some much bigger events with much better athletes. We reconnected this year when he heard about what I was doing in social media at Mayo Clinic and about SMUG, and he asked me for advice about a really exciting project he had in mind. Now that he’s getting it off the ground, I want to highlight it as a great example of using social media tools to tell a story.

Vince lives in the Twin Cities now, and has made some good connections with Cretin-Derham Hall, where American League MVP Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins went to high school. Other notable alums include hall-of-famer Paul Molitor, 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Center Matt Birk and current Notre Dame star receiver Michael Floyd.

This year, CDH has the consensus number one football recruit in the nation, Seantrel Henderson, and Vince’s great idea was to tell the story of what it’s like to be that guy, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the recruiting process.

Vince is a great storyteller, but his niche has been photography. And sometimes a niche can become a pigeonhole. But with social media, he can break out of that niche. He’s getting video of Seantrel talking about his experiences, and sending a Flip video camera with his parents as they go along on official visits. Here’s the video Vince posted of Seantrel’s Ohio State visit and his conversation with former Buckeye Chris Carter and with coach Jim Tressel:

This video has already been picked up by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and also asked Vince to send it to be embedded there.

I don’t know where this will end up, and neither does Vince, but one thing it shows is how the low cost and easy availability of social media tools make it possible for someone with a good idea to just make it happen instead of needing to pitch it in advance to a mainstream media outlet. As he says:

I suppose you could say this is part of a social media documentary project I’m doing on Seantrel about recruiting and his life as the No. 1 recruit in the country. If it works out, someday you’ll be able to download it and watch it on your computer or iPhone or Blackberry. Or I may just keep following him until he gets to the NFL. We’ll see.

When he was a teenager back in Austin, Vince had to get the local newspaper to bless his photography project before he could do it. Now he is using YouTube, Twitter (@VMuzikman) and a blog as his publishing platform, with a Flip camera as his main video source. His first video is up to about 12,000 views as of this writing.

Vince is a star SMUGgle who is putting the MacGyver mindset into action.

I hope you will follow what he’s doing and help spread the word about his #Seantrel project, and if you have suggestions for how he can improve, give him feedback.

More than that, I hope you will follow his example and just dive in and start using social media tools creatively in your projects.

Exploring Facebook Connect

I decided to explore adding Facebook Connect functionality to SMUG on Friday night.

I know what you’re thinking: “So that’s how you spend your Friday nights?”

At any rate, I just wanted to explain some clunky looking interface issues that you may see for a day or so while I figure this out.

Please bear with me. After I get the bugs worked out I will share how I did it.

Meanwhile, I appreciate Nick Dawson’s encouragement to try this. He said he’s using the WP-Facebook Connect plug-in in version 2.8.x of WordPress, even though the directory says it’s only compatible through version 2.6.


Mayo Clinic Social Media Update

I’m making a several presentations over the next week, and delivering variations of what you see embedded below. I prefer to not distribute the slides in advance as handouts, so that people aren’t distracted and reading ahead, and so we can all literally be on the same page as we have a conversation.

I also don’t want to have people thinking they need to feverishly take notes, so it’s helpful to be able to tell people just to sit back, relax and discuss, knowing that they can go back and refer to the slides online later.

My presentations vary somewhat by audience, depending on whether I need to introduce the social media tools (and how much time I have been allotted), so what you see below is the “full meal deal.”

Here are links to some of the Mayo Clinic social media sites I will be mentioning. I invite you to check them out:

I welcome any questions or comments from any of the presentations here, or feel free to tweet them to me (@LeeAase). The great thing about having that conversation in public is that it’s not just one-on-one; on a blog (or on the really small blog called Twitter) others can learn from the discussion, too. But even more importantly, they can contribute their thoughts…so we’re all richer for having brought in diverse experiences and perspectives.

This also is helpful so I can take a snapshot of where we are in our implementation of social media at Mayo Clinic as of September, 2009.

Business Blogging ROI

“What’s the ROI?” is among the most common questions people in business have about social media (right after (Isn’t that risky?”) and as P.F. Anderson says, many of the benefits and costs are intangible.

I’ve previously written about my experience connecting with Tom Vanderwell and how I saw one of his tweets about being a Mayo Clinic patient, which led to me meeting him in Grand Rapids, MI a few days later. This post summarized some of the outgrowths from that first interaction. So I thought it would be helpful to share another video interview with Tom Vanderwell, who has used his Straight Talk about Mortgages and Real Estate blog (and Twitter) successfully in his mortgage lending career.

Tom doesn’t get into the exact dollar return he’s seen through blogging, but he gives examples of the business he’s gotten in states far beyond his western Michigan home base. I would venture that just one of those deals would pay his out-of-pocket costs for blogging for, to be conservative… 50 years.

Of course that doesn’t take his time into account. But in a business like his, where word-of-mouth matters, I’m also betting that some of the loans he has made have led to recommendations for others.

But most importantly, he’s finding a way to grow beyond his narrowly defined geographic base (and one where the economy is even worse than the rest of the country.) And he’s finding an outlet for his passion: he’s able to have a business that’s about helping people instead of always just pushing more loan volume. He can serve his customers and feel good about it.

I say that’s a great return.